Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kindness in an Unkind World

My mom had entirely too high of expectations for my brothers and I. She expected us to talk nicely, be polite, be respectful, be kind, etc. It seemed no one else did those things; why should we?

Now I’m all grown up though.

Now I see the results of a society where those behaviors aren’t as valued as they once were.

Now I endure the struggle of teaching my children to talk nicely, be polite, be respectful, and be kind.

The last one in that list has popped up on my radar a lot this past week. Kindness; it’s such a hard word to define, let alone implement! Fortunately, God used Paul to teach us a few things about how to be kind.

Be ye Kind

“And be kind and compassionate to one another” (Ephesians 4:32).

Thankfully – if we take the time to consider the context of Paul’s words – he gave us some clues as to what it means to be kind and compassionate.

Being kind includes…
  • Careful word choice, whether our words are spoken or typed online (Ephesians 4:29). Our words shouldn’t be corrupt or of poor quality; they should encourage and benefit other people.
  • Listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit within you (Ephesians 4:30). Yes, it’s possible to be unkind to God. One key way is to ignore Him.
  • Don’t be bitter and angry. Don’t fly off the handle at people. Don’t fight and tell lies about other people. In short, don’t be mean (Ephesians 4:31)!
  • Forgive people. Not because you were right and they were wrong. And don’t forgive to be the better, more upright person. Forgive because God forgave you. Period. And He forgave some pretty messed up stuff in you. I know He did because He did the same in me.

Love is Kind

God also told us that “love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). This helps us understand kindness a little more. In God’s Word, love is all about sacrifice. It’s about putting other people first even when we don’t want to do so.

I admit it – I’m not very good at that type of kindness. I don’t like it when I feel like I should do something but it requires me to let go of what I want so I can focus on someone else. Yet that is what Christ did for us and that’s the love and kindness He wants us to show others.

Make a Difference

Can you imagine the difference we could make if we as Christians started choosing our words wisely, listening to the Spirit of God, stopped being mean, started forgiving people who hurt us, and put others before ourselves?

As a people group, we’re not really known for those kind of behaviors, are we? Maybe if we acted these ways more often, then it might be easier to show people the incredible advantages of being a follower of Christ. 

original photography by Deborah Cook

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